Defensive Breakout Candidate: LB T.J Edwards
15 July 2020 Eagles News
Each season, there’s a player who breaks out. And, for the Philadelphia Eagles, their biggest breakout player might reside at linebacker.
Last season, due to injuries, the Eagles resorted to an undrafted free agent out of Wisconsin, TJ Edwards. He ended the season with 30 combined tackles, however, his performance was much more important than that.
He had the highest tackle rate among linebackers with 100 snaps or more, he also was PFF’s second best graded linebacker in run defense with a grade of 90.3.
Here’s what Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had to say about Edwards.
“All that kid has done when we put him in the game is make the plays that have come to him,” Schwartz said. “He has been physical, he has been a sure tackler, and he has been assignment sound. Those are all three good things to be said about a linebacker.”
When it comes down to it, Edwards makes plays for the Eagles defense. In this new age NFL when there’s more defensive backs on the field, a linebacker as fast and as quick to recognize plays as Edwards, he’s going to bring a lot of value to the Eagles.
TJ Edwards was PFF's highest graded defensive player in week 8. This was why ? pic.twitter.com/YUGGIO1grp
— Thomas R. Petersen ? (@thomasrp93) October 30, 2019
For a while, the Eagles haven’t had a linebacker with the recognition skills of Edwards. With him at linebacker, the Eagles have the ability to load the secondary. Edwards cover up the lost ground and just is as natural of a football player as you’ll find.
Starting at the MIKE linebacker spot for the Eagles, Edwards is going to see a huge jump in snaps and production. His instincts set him up to have a big year in terms of tackles. His ability to fly through the gaps and read almost any run play help him in that category. And, with the Eagles front four set to be very disruptive this season with the addition of Javon Hargrove and a healthy Malik Jackson, there’s less pressure on Edwards to get a push.
Really, Edwards Jon is going to be made a lot easier next season. With him being so good, the Eagles should be more than comfortable leaving six defensive backs out there with one of the safeties playing in that hybrid role.
The Eagles found themselves another dog when they signed Edwards as an undrafted free agent last season. He’s here to stay and he’s here to dominate the opposition. There’s not many linebackers who are as instinctively good as Edwards. He’s always around the ball and he’s always there to make the tackle.
If there’s any player who’s going to take a major leap this season, it’s Edwards. Last season we saw just a saw sample of what he can do with the Eagles defense. There’s no doubt he’ll become a very productive linebacker for the Eagles.
Photo Credit; Steven Ryan/Getty Images